Cyclothymia vs. Dysthymia | Banyan Mental Health
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Cyclothymia vs. Dysthymia


Understanding cyclothymia vs. dysthymia helps to determine the differences between mood disorders. Both share similar symptoms, which may make diagnosing difficult. A person may experience more symptoms of one condition or show signs of both disorders. Antidepressants are used to treat both disorders, but antipsychotics are also given to those who struggle with cyclothymia.

What Is Cyclothymia?

Cyclothymia is a less severe form of bipolar disorder. Typically, a person will experience mild depressive episodes and hypomania. Hypomania is when a person’s mood suddenly elevates or is easily agitated. The symptoms of the disorder are mild compared to a person diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which includes symptoms like extreme anger or episodes of rage, or the opposite mood like happiness or excitement. People with the disorder often experience a manic state, and it becomes extremely difficult to manage emotions and perceive reality.

People will be diagnosed with cyclothymia after experiencing recurring episodes or symptoms of depression or hypomania after about two years. Usually, those with mild symptoms may not need to seek treatment, although more serious conditions will involve psychotherapy and mood stabilizers for treatment.

How to Define Dysthymia

Dysthymia, or Dysthymic disorder, is a less severe depressive mood disorder. People with the disorder experience a lack of energy or motivation and often do not feel or seek to enjoy the pleasures in life. An episode can last two years, and since the symptoms seem as if a person is caught in a highly depressive state, severe chronic depression may be the misdiagnosed disorder.

For both cyclothymia and dysthymia, an individual can develop the disorder through genetics, irregular brain functioning, chronic stress, or life and environmental factors. It is important to understand that cyclothymia is determined by the alternating episodes of both happy and elevated moods and depressive symptoms. Also, dysthymia is only characterized by signs of mild depression.

Cyclothymic Disorder Symptoms

Cyclothymia symptoms stem from the interaction of hypomanic and depressive symptoms. The alternating between emotional highs and lows will not be as extreme compared to someone who is dealing with bipolar disorder or finds themselves in a recurrent manic state. Cyclothymic symptoms to be aware of if you or a loved one is unsure of your condition include:

  • Loss of interest
  • Extreme optimism
  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Constant overthinking
  • Suddenly very talkative
  • Tendency to be distracted
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Insomnia or sleeping problems
  • An exaggerated feeling of happiness
  • Extreme feelings of hopelessness

Understanding the key differences in cyclothymic vs. dysthymia disorder is vital so a person can effectively communicate with a professional what symptoms they are experiencing. Although treatment is similar, the process still differs depending on the disorder at hand. Finding an excellent mood and anxiety disorder program is the first step in the right direction.

Symptoms of Dysthymia

There are numerous mild symptoms of dysthymia and being aware of the phases may help avoid long-term depressive episodes. Each person may experience symptoms differently, but learning the coping skills for depression and sustaining a support system will help. If you or a loved one wonders if you are experiencing this disorder, dysthymia symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Feeling unmotivated
  • Inability to sleep
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling lost or hopeless
  • Feeling empty or like there is a void
  • Less interested in social activities
  • Appetite changes or weight changes
  • Changes in sleep patterns like waking up early

Major depressive disorder or persistent depressive disorder are quite different in severity levels when compared to the symptoms of dysthymia. A person may not need treatment, depending on the duration of the effects on the mind and body. Typically, medicine and therapy are offered to help those who are struggling with the disorder.

Care at Our Florida Mental Health Treatment Center

At Banyan behavioral health treatment centers, we offer unique programs like pet therapy and art and music therapy to those who desire to get out of their comfort zone and express themselves during the recovery process. We pride ourselves on being a clean and safe organization that understands that addiction and mental illness are different for everyone. Our team of experts is here to supervise and provide licensed therapy and treatment methods to help our patients recover.

Please, do not hesitate to contact a specialist at Banyan Mental Health by calling 888-280-4763 and asking about our mental health residential program to get started on the path to recovery today!

Related Readings:
Getting Mental Help for Someone Who Doesn't Want It
Unipolar Depression vs. Bipolar Depression
Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.

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